political perils, despite Yachay’s current
administration’s best-intentioned efforts
(“Yachay’s promise,” C. Castillo-Chavez
et al., Letters, 1 September, p. 881). An
effort of this magnitude cannot be built in
isolation and needs strategic advice from
scientists who have experience navigating
Ecuador’s political arena.
Karina R. Vega-Villa
Department of Biology, Wenatchee Valley College,
Wenatchee, WA 98801, USA.
1. E.Rodriguez-Mega, Science 357,340(2017).
2. A.Villavicencio,Innovacion,Matriz ProductivayUniversidad:
Por Que Yachay Es una Estrategia Equivocada, (Corporacion
Editorial Nacional, Quito, 2014), vol. 8 [in Spanish].
3. R. Correa Delgado, “Plan Nacional de Desarrollo/Plan
Nacional para el Buen Vivir 2013-2017” (Secretaria
Nacional de Planificacion y Desarrollo, Quito, Ecuador,
2013) [in Spanish].
4. F. Burbano, “Yachay o el vuelo de los brujos,” Diario HOY
( 17 June 2014) [in Spanish].
5.MG omez-Lecaro,“¡Ayachay!,”El Universo (2017);www.
ayachay [in Spanish].
6. F. Burbano-de-Lara, “Yachay: El delírio de los brujos,”El
Universo (2017); www.eluniverso.com
brujos [in Spanish].
TECHNICAL COMMENT ABSTRACTS
Comment on “The extent of forest in
Dmitry Schepaschenko, Steffen Fritz,
Linda See, Juan Carlos Laso Bayas,
Myroslava Lesiv, Florian Kraxner,
Bastin et al. (Reports, 12 May 2017, p. 635)
claim to have discovered 467 million hectares
of new dryland forest. We would argue that
these additional areas are not completely
“new” and that some have been reported
before. A second shortcoming is that not all
sources of uncertainty are considered; the
uncertainty could be much higher than the
reported value of 3.5%.
Full text: dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aao0166
Response to Comment on “The extent
of forest in dryland biomes”
J.-F. Bastin, D. Mollicone, A. Grainger,
B. Sparrow, N. Picard, A. Lowe, R. Castro
Schepaschenko et al. question our findings,
claiming that we did not refer to all existing maps and that we did not account for
all sources of uncertainty. In our response,
we detail our selection criteria for reference maps, which clarify why the work of
Schepaschenko et al. was not used, and we
explain why our uncertainty assessment is
complete and how it was misunderstood by
Schepaschenko et al.
Full text: dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aao2070
9. P.Verger et al., Euro. Surveill.21,30406(2016).
10. Z. Horne, D. Powell, J. E. Hummel, K. J. Holyoak, Proc. Natl.
Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112, 10321 (2015).
To understand why Yachay Tech University
has been unsuccessful as a world-class
public research institution (1), we must
first analyze why and how it was created.
From the beginning, it was isolated from
the rest of the Ecuadorian universities
and plagued by politics, while its legitimate academic purpose was neglected. An
exhaustive analysis by Arturo Villavicencio
in 2014 (2) predicted the incongruences
of creating a technological hub that
was isolated from the real technological
needs in Ecuador and guided by foreign
scientists with little to no understanding
of the political and scientific reality of
the country. Villavicencio criticized the
proposed research scheme, in which basic
science was expected to swiftly translate
into applied science in order to develop a
knowledge-based economy. This bench-to-market idea was one of the major political
points in ex-president Rafael Correa’s
“citizen revolution” and was proposed to
reinvigorate Ecuador’s economy (3). An
editorial note in Diario HOY, one of the
main Ecuadorian newspapers, warned
in 2014 that using promises of economic
development based on advancements
in science and technology was merely a
political tool that disregarded the realities
of the Ecuadorian society (4).
Yachay EP, the public company that was
created to develop the “city of knowledge”
in Urcuqui, where Yachay University is
located, has been plagued with accusations
of corruption, overpaid administrators who
live overseas, unfinished or malfunctioning
buildings, and announcements of international investments that never existed (5,
6). The Ecuadorian attempt at creating a
state-of-the-art research institution has
not only failed its citizens but also tainted
legitimate efforts by Ecuadorian scientists
who have fought for years to do research in
As a young Ecuadorian-American
pharmaceutical scientist, I know the
immense potential that biological and
ecological resources have in numerous
research fields. Yachay’s lost opportunity
disheartens me, as it will take years to
rebuild trust within the scientific community in Ecuador and abroad. The potential
to become a world-class research institution continues to be overshadowed by
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